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I woke up with a shock as someone knocked on our door and said it was time to get up. It turned out to be a wake up call for the couple next door! Never mind, I was soon back in the land of dreams and this time overslept for real, with Cliff knocking on the door at 8:10 asking if we were ready for Dennys. Without an internet connection at Motel 6, Grand Junction (the guy at reception gave us a number to try as a key, for free, but none of the permutations that this provided with dashes and upper / lower case, worked) it was difficult to review the plan for the next few days. Dennys had wifi, but my laptop refused to connect. Angie’s connected without any problems. A quick look at Google Maps and the original itinerary drawn up from a chair in England and we had a plan. We decided to spend the morning at the Colorado National Monument just to the south of town and then drive on to Montrose, or, if there was time, on to Durango – the one in Colorado – NOT the state in Mexico.

All images from our drive and mini stops along the Rim Road are filed under S2540. Most are of the spectacular scenery as the road winds and twists along the Rim, offering wonderful sights over Grand Junction and the Colorado River. We also managed to catch most of the cacti found in the National Monument: Pediocactus simpsonii, Escobaria missouriensis, Echinocereus trichlochidiata, Sclerocactus parviflorus and a number of Opuntia, including O. phaeacantha and O.erinacea. Yucca harrimaniae and Y. bacatta were also here. Ranger Liz Barrett told us at the Visitors Center that this winter had been warmer than usual with less rain and snow. P.simpsonii had finished flowering a few weeks ago, while the images that we were taking on E. triglochidiatus were the first of the year – although we had seen them in flower ever since our arrival in Phoenix two weeks ago. This is a much under rated National Monument and well worth a visit.

Three hours after entering the Rim Road, we left, me with 89 images added to the ever-growing portfolio.

As we headed towards Montrose the San Juan Mountains loomed at the horizon, their peaks covered in snow. We had no maps to tell us what to expect on our route today, relying on SatNav and print outs from Google Maps helped to avoid being distracted by other ‘interesting things’ that we might encounter.

The drive through the snow-covered mountains produced an unexpected bonus to the day with many more images added and illustrating the rich diversity of climates, terrain and the accompanying flora. The temperature started at 68 F in Grand Junction, dropped to 40F as the road climbed to 3,320 m altitude and was back up to 58 F as we walked back from the near by Steak House at 21:00 tonight. Sadly we did not find (neither did we look too hard for) cacti. All images filed as S2541.

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